LANSING, IA (WXOW)—Protecting large mouth bass and other wildlife on the Mississippi River is one reason for a partnership among federal, state and several local agencies.
The Capoli Slough Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project is rebuilding the original islands that have eroded and disappeared.
"When locks and dams were built it raised water elevations," Jeff Janvrin, Mississippi River Habitat Specialist, WI DNR. "Those water elevations created these islands out of the flood plain forest and wetlands that were here."
Scott Baker, Resident Engineer, US Army Corps of Engineers said construction crews have hauled in about 40,000 tons of rock to build the islands shorelines. Sand from the river is being dredged to help build the islands up.
"Where we're standing right now is an area between two islands that we're connecting with sand and rock," Baker said. "Over time this area will also fill in with additional material."
"What this project will do is divert flow, keep the area quite and dredging so deeper water for fisheries to spend the winter," Janvrin said.
The shorelines aren't designed for recreation so it will be difficult to drive a boat to shore, but it will create a great habitat for fish.
"If somebody runs in here with a boat, as soon as all of the barge equipment leaves and dredges leave, you're not probably going to catch a lot," Janvrin said. "You got to wait about 5-7 years because the fish don't just become attracted to this area. We're seeing that we're setting up new populations of fish because of these projects."
But, he said water fowl are responding right away to the shelter it provides them from the wind and waves; eventually deer, mink muskrat, otter and sand hill cranes will call the islands home.
Construction on the Capoli Slough islands will be complete this fall.
Just downstream is Harpers Slough where another island restoration project will begin soon. This week, they are taking bids for the construction project.
Both projects are estimated to cost a total of $10 million.
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